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GPS for Europe: Ask the Editors

In this Ask the Editors, CNET editors answer a reader's question about GPS for Europe and offers some product recommendations.

Q: I will be going to Italy next month, and I am being told that the Budget Rental Car does not have a GPS option. I am very nervous about not having help on the Italian roads. Can you recommend the right mapping system for Italy? Does the Magellan Maestro 4040 work in Italy? Any help would be appreciated. I only have a very limited budget to purchase a device, and don't need anything fancy. --Michael, via e-mail

A: Hi Michael. Driving in a completely new territory, especially in a foreign country, can definitely be nerve-wracking so I think it's a great idea to have GPS as reinforcement. You have two options: 1) you can buy a unit with maps of Europe already preloaded on the device; or 2) you can get a standard, domestic model and purchase regional maps to load onto your portable navigation device.

The model you mentioned, the Magellan Maestro 4040, ships only with maps of North America, and unfortunately, the company doesn't provide the option to add European maps. I'd suggest taking a look at the Garmin Nuvi 200 series. Not only can you add European maps ($149.95 additional), you can also get other travel tools, like a language guide. However, as you can see, the maps cost quite a bit, so it can add up. It's worth looking into the models that come with all the maps (North America and Europe) installed on the device, so you don't have to deal with transferring maps to the GPS. The Garmin Nuvi 270 and TomTom GO 930 may fit the bill. Hope that helps, and safe travels!